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5 Tracks Where Jimmy Chamberlin Is A Rock Drumming GOD!

Happy Birthday JC!

Nope. Not the last supper guy. He probably couldn’t do what this guy can. I’m talking of course, about Jimmy Chamberlin. One of rock’s greatest EVER drummers. It’s his birthday today so we thought we’d have a look at some of the finest drum performances he’s put together over his career with Smashing Pumpkins.

Born on June 10th 1964 in Joliet, Illinois, his father was a musician and his older brother a drummer also. Music being in his blood, it seems he was destined to do awesome things on the drums.Starting as a jobbing drummer playing in Polka bands, TV shows, Show bands and more. After a brief stint building houses, he found this 3 piece band who needed a drummer to play their show at Chicago’s Cabaret Metro Theatre. That band were Smashing Pumpkins. I have been a MASSIVE fan of the band and of Jimmy’s playing for a long time (since around 1996) so it will be hard for me to distill my favourite performances of his but I shall do my best. These are in chronological order, and in my album favourite order. I’m also fully aware he has his own solo project  the Jimmy Chamberlin Complex – however I chose to focus on his work with SP.

A final point to make is that ALL of the songs were recorded to tape so they are single performances. No cutting and pasting and no dropping in – all live!

1.) Bury Me

This is the fourth track on the band’s debut album Gish and features all the hall marks of what I think makes Jimmy a great player. The groove firstly has an amazing swing in it – especially towards the back half of the track (from around 2:51) when he’s playing the broken ride pattern and you can hear his left foot pedalling hi hats on all the 8th notes.

The fill ins are trademark JC – the ridiculous single stroke roll fill in at around 2:24 always gets me – so clean and yet so powerful. The fill in at 3:07 is pure Bonham influenced which Jimmy has always be open about. I believe Bonham plays something fairly similar on Stairway to Heaven. Lastly at 3:15 he plays a single solitary snare rim hit and in the context of the groove, is just pure gold!

Some notable hits from Gish are also Siva and Tristessa but for me, Bury Me will always be the best drum performance on that record.

2.) Geek U.S.A

In 1993 Siamese Dream was released and it’s still incredible. The songs are tremendously well written and performed and Geek USA is my favourite. It’s something of an ‘opus’ with there being various sections. The opening drum which mimics the guitar riff and accents the offbeat 16th notes is beautiful. Clean and dynamic.

This takes us into a main riff, where JC’s right foot is playing the guitar riff underneath a super solid back beat and sloshy hats. The fills in the chorus also replicate the guitar lines and contain both power and musicality – check them out. After a verse/interlude/chorus section that is similar to the last time, we hit this beautiful quiet  half-time section. Jimmy plays a gorgeous groove using ride, snare rim and a descending tom fill pattern until the band breaks into another rocking half time section which leads into righteous guitar solo contacting some signature JC single stroke snare fills.

This leads us into the outro section which is another monster half-time riff. He brings himself in with AWESOME triplet tom fills and kicks the band along, playing behind the guitar riffs and echoing the beautifully. Maybe my favourite recorded performance of his. And if you watch it live, it’s twice the speed which is just bonkers!

3.) Cherub Rock

The opener from Siamese Dream. 2 single stroke rolls open the album before a guitar riff starts. Twice through the riff and Jimmy comes in behind it, playing the same figure before the awesome triplet fill to bring in the verse.

A cracking 16th note bass drum pattern drives the verse along which continues into the chorus and again for the next verse and chorus. At 2:59 the band re-caps the intro which Jimmy punctuates with the some awesome snare/cymbal hits and flams into an awesome triplet fill into the guitar solo.

At 4:42 Jimmy rounds out the tune with a ridiculous single stroke fill that puentucates an accelerated feeling guitar line. Pure rock gold!

4.) Jellybelly

The 3rd song from their 3rd album which at one point was the biggest selling double album of all time. The single stroke fills and one handed ride part behind the guitar riff for the intro were, and still are, astounding to me. The power and speed at which they’re played (especially live) are nothing short of incredible.

The groove is standard JC fare by now – powerful sixteenth note bass drum pattern behind a syncopated snare part and a broken ride pattern. The fills that lead into the chorus are magic. Flams between the snare and floor tom with 3 sixteenth notes in the right foot(!)This continues for the next verse and chorus and bridge and then the ride out has some of Jimmy’s best fills to date – single stroke rolls as per the intro but this time around the toms too. Again, nothing short of awesome – with power and precision. All inside 3 minutes.

Some real notable drum performances from this album are “F*%k You: An Ode to No One” ‘Porcelina Of The Vast Oceans” ‘Thru The Eyes Of Ruby”

5.) The Everlasting Gaze

The opener from Machina/The Machines of God. This announced the return of Jimmy to the band in amazing fashion.

The song starts with a super heavy guitar riff with Jimmy playing a disco style beat. Yes! A disco beat. It totally works too! The fills in the chorus flirt between beautiful, simple 16th note fills that incorporate the crashes to super powerful single stroke fills. This continues for the next verse and chorus. But it’s the coda in this song that really ramps up the ante.

Jimmy plays around the guitar riffs with single stroke fills, and triplets split around the toms. This leads the band into a rocking outro riff that sees Jimmy laying an awesome groove down that splits paradiddles between the ride, snare and toms before a rocking powerful 16th note fill to close. These are some of my favourites and for me, all the albums that he plays on have tremendous performances on the majority of all the tracks so whittling down a list was difficult.

More notables are ‘Doomsday Clock’, ‘That’s The Way (My Love Is)’ and ‘United States’ from the oft underrated ‘Zeitgeist’ album.

To round us out, here’s some amazing live performances – one is a full gig set from behind the drums. Enjoy!

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